With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 Apple Plays the Long Game

In speaking with colleagues over the past few days, the consensus is that Apple’s Keynote at the WWDC on Monday was the most impressive that we have seen in many years. Sure, there was no new hardware: no iWatch, no retina iMac, no 4K display, but what we saw was two operating systems getting massive under-the-hood changes.

With a raft of new technologies designed to connect Macs and iOS devices, Apple has outlined the way the company envisions computing in the years to come. You will be able to make and receive phone calls on your Mac, if you have an iPhone. You be able to start working on one device, and continue working on another device, if you have, say, a Mac and an iPad. You will be able to get SMSes on your Mac or on iOS devices, and if you’re in an area where you don’t have Wi-Fi, your iPhone can create a hotspot for your Mac so you can get online.

People have been speaking of the “post-PC” era for a while, but Apple isn’t ditching the desktop computer. Quite the contrary, Apple is doubling down on the desktop, providing reasons to own both a computer and a mobile device.

Part of the reason is no doubt financial. Tim Cook gave some numbers: 800 million iOS devices, and 80 million Macs. That’s ten iOS devices for every Mac. Imagine if the company could change that ratio to, say, seven iOS devices for each Mac. The Mac is a very high-margin product, and if Apple provides more reasons for iOS users to buy Macs, they can increase sales, and guarantee a long stream of revenue.

OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 are clearly designed to be better together. Apple is making computing better for people who have both types of devices. Rather than giving up on the desktop, Apple is showing just how practical a desktop computer is. If Apple can convert more iOS users to OS X, they can guarantee revenue for at least another decade.

Because once you get locked into a platform, it’s very hard to change. Whether it be hardware or software, or even third-party apps, Apple is providing more compelling reasons to buy its products, while it’s making computing easier for all of us.